It is part of the environment, though seldom noticed explicitly.  Sort of like air, which is rarely commented on unless there is a stench in it.

“Professor XYX is a good teacher.”  “Yes, but is XYZ rigorous?  Is there rigor in XYZ’s teaching?”

The term rigor has been used to cast doubt on XYZ’s teaching and reputation.

My personal library contains dozens of books on teaching and learning.  Not recalling the term rigor in my professional reading (except for denigrations of teachers beset by rigor mortis), my curiosity has been piqued.  Am I missing something by being unaware of rigor in the classroom?  What does rigorous teaching mean?  Am I deficient?

On to Google, but the first 20 links didn’t return anything that is obviously relevant to my questions.  On to Merriam-Webster, where rigor is defined as:

  1. a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity  b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
  2. : a tremor caused by a chill
  3. : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
  4. : strict precision : exactness <logical rigor>

Synonyms of rigor are difficult and arbitrary.

The last thing I want is for my teaching to be characterized as inflexible, severe, or cruel.  I do not want to make it difficult for students to learn.  Rigor in one’s teaching approach is to be avoided instead of embraced.

Never-the-less, the challenge of rigor is ever present.  More on this later.

by David Albrecht

1 Comment

Filed under Faculty issues

One response to “Rigor

  1. Again: You are very inspiring. You are an example for us, starting professors all around the world – so I’m glad and proud of everything you wrote.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s